The Great Round-up


According to Spain’s rulers, all Roma could be suspected of disobeying laws. Even though many families complied with regulations requiring them to have a fixed residence and shared trade, a round-up was planned to imprison all Roma and separate them from society.

Gaspar Vázquez Tablada, bishop of Oviedo and governor of the Council of Castile, the highest political body in the Spanish monarchy, proposed the round-up to Fernando VI, who approved it.

It would be the Marquis of Ensenada who planned the round-up and organised the army, magistrates and marshals (local police) with high levels of caution. On Wednesday 30 July 1749, the order was given to detain “all established Roma and vagrants in the kingdom with no exception for sex, age or status, and without respecting any type of shelter in which they have been received”.

At that time, the Holy See had just eased ecclesiastical immunity rights at the regional level insofar as they concerned Roma. These rights prevented anyone from being taken prisoner in sacred locations: churches, convents, hermitages, cemeteries, etc.

Assignment of towns were Roma must reside. Note sent by the Duke of Caylus with the inscription “Valga para el Reinado de S.M. el Señor Fernando Sexto.” 1746. Archive of the Crown of Aragón. ↵

The round-up’s success from the point of view of official control was due in part to the fact that many Roma families had obeyed orders to settle in 75 specific towns. 881 families had been officially counted and controlled, making them easier to imprison.

Between 9,000 and 12,000 women, men, elderly and young Roma were imprisoned. Their property was seized and auctioned off to pay packing and transport costs. Men, the elderly, young people and children were taken to the naval arsenals to perform forced labour on public works. Women and children under the age of seven were sent to inmate compounds.

The alleged crime for which their freedom was taken away was nothing more than being “simply Roma”.

The eventual reprieve for these injustices would not come until 16 June 1763, fourteen years later! And it would be issued by Carlos III, who admitted that the round-up was an operation “that did little to honour to the memory of my dear brother”.

For more information , read the following article : De la llum sobre la foscor. La gran batuda espanyola.
Article extret del projecte educatiu MAJ KHETANE.
Written by Jesús Salinas.